Super Veggies: Broccoli and Cabbage and Kale — Oh My!

Broccoli on the Stalk

Cruciferous vegetables.

Until recently, I had heard the term but couldn’t have told you much about them. And while we’ve written about their powerful health benefits in the past, it bears repeating: Cruciferous vegetables are astoundingly good for you.

Named for their cross-shaped flowers (Cruciferae is latin for “cross-bearing”), you likely know them well — broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and turnips all fall into this veggie family. These “super veggies” are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One medium stalk of broccoli has 5 grams of fiber and 220% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C! Studies have linked their consumption with lowered cancer risks — the phytochemicals they contain protect DNA, inactivate carcinogens, and inhibit tumor formation and migration. These crucifers have also been proven to possess antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Cruciferous Veggies By The Numbers

I’ve run across at least three articles about cruciferous vegetables in the last week (which I took as a sign to write this post!). My favorite appeared in a little mag I pick up at my grocery store. Tony Tantillo —  “the fresh grocer” — wrote about the benefits of this food group and provided a super-helpful comparison of the nutritional values of the most common crucifers. I learned that broccoli kicks butt, which is great for me because my family doesn’t eat many green vegetables, but they will fill up on roasted broccoli.

The Fresh Grocer's Guide to Cruciferous Vegetables

For maximum health benefits, studies show it’s better to eat crucifers raw and freshly-picked, because they’re beneficial enzymes are more active in that form. If you’re going to cook them, steam lightly instead of microwaving. Nuking destroys those helpful enzymes.

I’ve made a vow to eat more whole grains. Now, I’m adding cruciferous veggies to that intent. (I just found a broccoli and couscous recipe combining the two on our sister site, Vibrant Wellness Journal.)

Which super veggie is your favorite and how do you like to prepare it?

Image Credits: Nutrition chart courtesy of Broccoli photo from Linda N. via flickr/CC.

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About the Author

Hi all! I'm Mary Gerush - a recovering corporate worker bee turned good-farm-real-food advocate and writer who wants to help people understand what they're eating. I tend a tiny urban farm in Dallas, TX, and hope to scale up one day soon. Omnivore through-and-through, there's not much I love to eat more than a butter-basted grass fed steak fresh from a searing hot cast iron skillet. Follow me on , , and !